Writer and Poet Clint Smith on the moment black lives began to officially matter, and the long history of pre-smartphone police brutality and state-sanctioned racism that preceded it.
What will it take for the United States to overcome entrenched issues pertaining to race and socioeconomic status? According to poet and educator Clint Smith, the U.S. needs to be honest with itself about cultural myths (meritocracy, equal treatment by authorities, etc.) that don't actually exist.
The freedom to go from identifying as white to black isn't afforded to blacks who would want to identify as white.
Clint Smith is a teacher, poet, and doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University with a concentration in Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS). He serves as a resident teaching artist in Boston Public Schools and as a writing instructor at Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk, MA. Previously, he taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland and served as a public health worker in Soweto, South Africa. His research interests include critical pedagogy, mass incarceration, race, and inequality. In 2015 he was awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. In 2013, Mr. Smith was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council. He has spoken at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, the U.S. Department of Education, the IB Conference of the Americas, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and has been featured on TED.com, Upworthy, and TVOne's Verses and Flow. Additionally, he has been profiled in The Washington Post, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Root, NBC News and the book, "American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom" (Welcome Books, 2013). His TED Talk, The Danger of Silence, has been viewed more the 2 million times and was named one of the top 20 TED Talks of 2014. His new TED Talk, How to Raise a Black Son in America, was released in April 2015.
As a poet, he is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, a Callaloo Fellow, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Kinfolks, American Literary Review, Still: The Journal, Winter Tangerine Review, Lime Hawk, Harvard Educational Review and elsewhere.
Clint earned a BA in English from Davidson College and is an alumnus of the New Orleans Public School System.